Those who can’t do, teach?

Been reading the comments on Jerry Almonte’s latest post and the comments made by lindyhopr with mild interest. I have nothing to add to that discussion other than it makes me smile to think that Ryan Francois describes his Swing X-Treme dance company as “a dynamic and exciting fusion dance company

Jerry’s post did make me think again about the differences between good dancers and good teachers. I have been to one, repeat one, of Lucky’s classes and based on a sample size of one I thought he was an excellent teacher. I can’t remember the specifics of the class but he was teaching a fairly basic class about pulsing and syncopation but he did it in a way that most of the leaders in class just’‘got it’. It impressed me because I had been to classes where similar material had been taught to the same leaders in the past and they hadn’t ‘got it’.

Doing versus teaching is an age old debate and I have nothing meaningful to add but I do think that there are times when we as a community should step back and acknowledge that a whilst a particular teacher’s dancing isn’t of a particularly high standard they may well have a gift for teaching that makes them incredibly valuable members of the dancing community. (This comment isn’t directed at Jerry who is discussing quite a different point in his post)

It’s all too easy for intermediate or advanced dancers to pull apart a particular teacher’s technique or complain that they don’t teach x,y,z in their lessons. It’s easy to forget that many people who turn up to classes have never danced a step in their life, are terrified about treading on someone’s feet, have no idea about counts and find that a triple step is really quite a baffling concept. A teacher who can make those people feel welcome, encourage them, appreciate their efforts and then get them to come to a social dance, is, in my view, extremely gifted but they may not be people I want to watch in a showcase dance.

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3 responses to “Those who can’t do, teach?”

  1. Jeff says :

    Excellent! I’m capable of generating mild interest! (Thankfully, it’s not ‘morbid fascination’ instead)

    I, and others I’ve talked to, have also noticed the same things you have. I’ve always thought of Lucky as a good teacher–he was one of my first, and he encouraged me to dabble in both Lindy and blues. A great teacher might not necessarily always make a great performer, and vice versa. I’ve had classes with great performers who couldn’t effectively teach the material in a way a class would understand (or at least, couldn’t help me understand, which is more than likely).

    P.S. Is it just me or is the text all shimmery in your blog?

  2. sleepingglitter says :

    I think the shimmer is probably WordPress’s snowing feature 🙂

  3. Susanne Sparks says :

    The old “those who can’t do, teach” saw has always bugged me in general b/c there’s an implication that teaching isn’t somehow a legitimate skill worthy of developing. The education world is still grappling with what exact skills need to be taught that result in good teaching b/c what goes on in a school of education isn’t too much related to the skills needed to get up in front of a class. (I work in education policy.)

    I really appreciate this comment, “A teacher who can make those people feel welcome, encourage them, appreciate their efforts and then get them to come to a social dance, is, in my view, extremely gifted but they may not be people I want to watch in a showcase dance.” My teaching partner and I work really hard to be fun, welcoming, and put people at ease. We also try very hard to give folks solid fundamentals so as they grow beyond our little scene the basic skills they learned will serve them well.

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